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A Comparison of the effects of different urban woods and openland onto human wellbeing and health


Urban environment is characterized by a high density of civilisatory stimuli, which are constantly affecting people living in cities. Staying in natural environments, on the other side, is able to support recreational effects and the restoration of attention fatigue. A positive effect of nature experience onto human health can be seen in cognitive, physical and psychological matters. While there can be found a lot of empirical evidence about the positive influence of nature compared to urban environment, a comparison of different types of nature has not been focused closely, yet. In this project, which is part of the Cost Action E39 “Forests, Trees and Human Health and Wellbeing”, different forms of nature are analyzed. Central are the following research questions:

  • Which knowledge and ideas do users have about effects of staying in nature towards health and wellbeing?

  • What is the specific effect of manicured and wild woods facing human wellbeing?
  • How can woods and other nature spaces be designed to support human health and wellbeing?

The methodological approach includes two consecutive parts:

1. In an explorative procedure interviews were held with lay people and experts to reconstruct subjective theories about the relationship between different forms of nature onto individual wellbeing.

  • Half standardized interviews about the influence of different nature forms and conditions onto individual wellbeing
  • Theoretical sampling by maximized contrasts: experts and lay people, urban and country dwellers, economical and leisure motivated use of nature, frequency of use
  • Analysis and generation of hypotheses about impacts of nature onto wellbeing

2. In a following deductive phase these hypotheses are tested in an experiment, representing different nature conditions: manicured and wild wood.

  • Pre-post- comparison of wellbeing
  • Presentation of different nature (in-situ and laboratory)
  • Sample: inhabitants of Zürich and agglomeration, randomized onto the different conditions


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